Brand Identity

Brand Identity is the visible elements of a brand, including color, design, and a brand's logo. It's the manner in which a corporation, company, or business presents itself to the public and distinguishes the business in the mind of consumers. Put simply: it's what you, customers, and prospective customers can see.[1]

For a company to exude a strong sense of brand identity, it must have an in-depth understanding of its target market, competitors and the surrounding business environment. Brand identity includes both the core identity and the extended identity. The core identity reflects consistent long-term associations with the brand; whereas the extended identity involves the intricate details of the brand that help generate a constant motif. According to Kotler et al. (2009), a brand's identity may deliver four levels of meaning:

  • Attributes
  • Benefits
  • Values
  • Personality

A brand's attributes are a set of labels with which the corporation wishes to be associated. For example, a brand may showcase its primary attribute as environmental friendliness. However, a brand's attributes alone are not enough to persuade a customer into purchasing the product. These attributes must be communicated through benefits, which are more emotional translations. If a brand's attribute is being environmentally friendly, customers will receive the benefit of feeling that they are helping the environment by associating with the brand. Aside from attributes and benefits, a brand's identity may also involve branding to focus on representing its core set of values. If a company is seen to symbolise specific values, it will, in turn, attract customers who also believe in these values. For example, Nike's brand represents the value of a "just do it" attitude. Thus, this form of brand identification attracts customers who also share this same value. Even more extensive than its perceived values is a brand's personality. Quite literally, one can easily describe a successful brand identity as if it were a person. This form of brand identity has proven to be the most advantageous in maintaining long-lasting relationships with consumers, as it gives them a sense of personal interaction with the brand. Collectively, all four forms of brand identification help to deliver a powerful meaning behind what a corporation hopes to accomplish, and to explain why customers should choose one brand over its competitors.[2]

Elements of Brand Identity[3]

A brand identity is a set of tools or elements used by a company to create a brand image. A brand image is a customers’ perception of the brand consisting of various associations related to it and memories about interacting with it. A brand identity and its elements stem from a company’s mission, brand value proposition, long-term goals, competitive position on the market, and relevance to the values and interests of the target audience. These factors have a foundational nature and, in the branding process, describe what a company wants to communicate. Meanwhile, a brand identity describes how these foundational elements are communicated. The most commonly agreed upon elements of a brand identity usually include:

  • A brand name
  • A tagline or a slogan
  • Colors and graphic styles
  • A logo and a wordmark and their variations
  • A voice and a tone
  • A style and a typeface

These elements can be grouped differently, and there are a lot of opinions as to which specific brand elements should be included in this list and in which order they should be presented. These differences are usually explained by the context in which a brand identity is being discussed and the perspective of a particular expert. For example, a designer who is developing a brand identity for an existing company would omit a brand name and a tagline from his creative process and would put more emphasis on its visual part. In contrast to that, a fuller span of brand identity elements is usually involved during the process of creating a new brand, rather than rebranding an existing product or company.

Brand Identity
source: Marketing91

The Keys to a Strong Brand Identity[4]

Designing the above elements doesn’t necessarily mean they’re effective. A strong brand identity needs to work for everyone, both your internal team (e.g., brand ambassadors, content creators) and the people who will interact with it (e.g., customers). As you embark on the design process, make sure your brand identity is:

  • Distinct: It stands out among competitors and catches people’s attention.
  • Memorable: It makes a visual impact. (Consider Apple: The logo is so memorable they only include the logo—not their name—on their products.)
  • Scalable and flexible: It can grow and evolve with the brand.
  • Cohesive: Each piece complements the brand identity.
  • Easy to apply: It’s intuitive and clear for designers to use.

If any of these elements are missing, it will be challenging for your brand team to do their job well.

The Importance of Brand Identity[5]

As the embodiment of almost everything a business is and does, according to Purely Branded, a brand "lives and evolves in the minds and hearts" of consumers. Its identity, therefore, is crucial to the business's future. So, if the brand is more than just its logo, how can one replicate what brands like Coca-Cola have done and tap these other elements of a business's identity? Here are six components of a well-developed brand identity, and why it's so important to develop them.

  • The "Face" of Your Business: For all intents and purposes, a brand's logo is the "face" of the business. But that face should do more than just look cool or interesting -- a logo's contribution to brand identity is associative, too. It tells the public that [this image] means [the name of the company].
  • Credibility and Trust: Having a brand identity doesn't just make a product more memorable; it makes the brand more authoritative in the marketplace. A brand that establishes a face, and maintains that face consistently over time, develops credibility among its competitors and trust among its customers.
  • Advertising Impressions: A brand identity is a template for everything that would include on an advertisement for the business -- whether that ad is in print, online, or a preroll commercial on YouTube. A brand with a face and industry credibility is well prepared to promote itself and make impressions on potential buyers.
  • The Company's Mission: When an identity is created for a brand, it's giving it something to stand for. That, in turn, gives the company a purpose. Almost all ompanies have mission statements, right? However, that can't be done without giving the brand an identity.
  • Generating New Customers and Delighting Existing Ones: A brand identity -- one with a face, trust, and a mission -- attracts people who agree with what the brand has to offer. But once these people become customers, that same brand identity gives them a sense of belonging. A good product generates customers, but a good brand generates advocates.

Building Brand Identity[6]

The steps a company should take to build a strong, cohesive, and consistent brand identity will vary, but a few points apply broadly to most:

  • Analyze the company and the market. A full SWOT analysis that includes the entire firm—a look at the company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats—is a proven way to help managers understand their situation so they can better determine their goals and the steps required to achieve them.
  • Determine key business goals. The brand identity should help fulfill these goals. For example, if an automaker is pursuing a niche luxury market, its ads should be crafted to appeal to that market. They should appear on channels and sites where potential customers are likely to see them.
  • Identify its customers. Conducting surveys, convening focus groups, and holding one-on-one interviews can help a company identify its consumer group.
  • Determine the personality and message it wants to communicate. A company needs to create a consistent perception, rather than trying to combine every conceivable positive trait: utility, affordability, quality, nostalgia, modernity, luxury, flash, taste, and class. All elements of a brand, such as copy, imagery, cultural allusions, and color schemes, should align and deliver a coherent message.

Building a brand identity is a multi-disciplinary strategic effort, and every element needs to support the overall message and business goals. It can include a company's name, logo, and design; its style and the tone of its copy; the look and composition of its products; and, of course, its social media presence. Apple founder Steve Jobs famously obsessed over details as small as the shade of gray on bathroom signs in Apple stores. While that level of focus may not be necessary, the anecdote shows that Apple's successful branding is the result of intense effort, not serendipity.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Brand Identity[7]

  • Advantages of having a strong brand identity
    • Drives the vision of the Company
    • Improves the work culture of the company (clear goals)
    • Improves brand Personality
    • Maintains the positioning and even improves it
    • Immediate connect with customers
  • Disadvantages of brand identity
    • If a company is unable to form a favorable brand identity, it may lose its positioning in the market.
    • Brand identity plays a crucial role in any organization and if not handled properly, it will showcase that the company is not in touch with the realities of the market and its current trends.
    • The inability to understand the market sentiments can have contrary affects and may lead to loss of sales and less revenues.

See Also


  1. What is brand identity? Crowdspring
  2. Explaining Brand Identity Wikipedia
  3. Elements of Brand Identity Professional Academy
  4. The Keys to a Strong Brand Identity Column Five Media
  5. Why is brand identity important? Kathryn Wheeler
  6. Building Brand Identity Investopedia
  7. Advantages and Disadvantages of Brand Identity Marketing91